Paul Rhoads doesn’t buy it.
The Iowa State football coach respects the abilities of new Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis, but in watching the Hawkeyes’ season opener, Rhoads sees more similarities than differences between this Iowa offense and the ones ISU has faced in the past.
“I don’t think their mentality has changed a lot,” Rhoads said Monday during the weekly Big 12 teleconference. “Coach (Kirk) Ferentz is still very involved with the offense, and I believe they’ll still be a run team.”
He points to Damon Bullock’s 150-yard rushing performance against Northern Illinois as an example.
But Rhoads said the Cyclones must remain cognizant of the passing abilities of James Vandenberg, who completed 16-of-28 passes for 207 yards in the Hawkeyes’ 44-41 triple-overtime loss to Iowa State a year ago.
“They get great play action, and I’m sure they will continue to take a number of shots to challenge you downfield,” Rhoads said. “I don’t see that changing, and it’s something we have to be ready for.”
The Hawkeyes maintained a fairly balanced approach in Saturday’s season-opening, 18-17 win over Northern Illinois.
Of the 82 plays it ran against the Huskies, Iowa rushed
49 times for 139 yards and threw it 33 times for 129 yards. On first down, the Hawkeyes passed
17 times and ran 16 times.
Rhoads believes he has a team that is prepared to deal with that as they work toward Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game at Kinnick Stadium, a place where Iowa State last won in 2002.
He saw an example of that in Iowa State’s opener as the Cyclones overcame a 16-7 deficit to defeat Tulsa 38-23.
“We’re finally a veteran football team, and we acted like one with the way we responded when we were challenged. We were sort of listless on the sidelines when we got down, but then we got a turnover created by Jake Knott and we responded like veteran teams do,” Rhoads said.
“I think what happened is the culmination of experiences our guys have had over the last three years. We have so many players who have played a lot of games for us from the time they were redshirt freshmen, and they are benefiting now from those experiences.”